Minority Report: The True California Cup Champions

The San Francisco Shock celebrate their Cali Cup win / Photo: Samuel Chen

In this week’s Minority Report, Briggsy recaps her experiences at both California Cup showmatches between the Los Angeles Valiant and the San Francisco Shock. The true champions, we find out, aren’t necessarily the players – especially when things get rough. 

College is about making mistakes. My mistake was going to college.

I grew up watching movies and nonfiction testimonials about college sororities providing lifelong bonds, fun parties that would become stories to tell my grandkids, and classes that were engaging and interactive to prepare me for a lifetime of success. I was excited to start this new chapter in my life after enduring a rather miserable high school experience. Turns out not much changes after high school. In college, I didn’t fit in, the material didn’t interest me, and most of my time was spent dealing with lecherous instructors and abusive relationships. I left unceremoniously after I simply stopped going to classes.

So when I went to cover the California Cup in Santa Ana, I was hesitant knowing that I couldn’t relate to the collegiate life at all. A lot of my writing is based on my own empathy for certain situations and how I experience them, but this time I believed it would be a little more difficult. Not to mention that it was a long time since I went to school, so I prepared for a lot of adaptation on my part.

More Than College 

Readers, this is why research is important.

Because this wasn’t just about college. It became quickly apparent that this was also about the love that the Los Angeles Valiant and the San Francisco Shock have for their fan-based communities. Instead of this being just a normal event, I felt like it was a summer party in the middle of October. The vibe was so good-natured, I don’t think there was ever a point where I didn’t smile. I was able to meet other super fans like me. I became a cosplay boyfriend for Queen Valla herself as she donned her amazing attire to meet with attendees and cheer the hometown team on.

Park “Architect” Min-ho signs a Shock fan’s jersey / Photo Credit Samuel Chen

The Valiant team even fulfilled a promise made earlier this year and had an actual block party outside of the Esports Arena where DJ Glitch spun some amazing video game tunes and there were even carnival games. CARNIVAL GAMES. And yet, my one-track mind was in full effect, as my attention immediately zeroed in on the cotton candy stand and I indulged enthusiastically as I met King Noah Whinston, got a shoutout from JetSetJamerson that made me blush, and blew my voice (again) as I cheered on home team Valiant to a well-deserved 3-1 victory.

I left after a long, long day actually looking forward to part two. If it was anything like Santa Ana, I was in for a treat.

Well, it was an experience for sure.

From Santa Ana to Oakland

At 5:00am, a few friends and I drove from Southern California to the Esports Arena in Oakland six hours away. I made the (at the time) awesome mistake of singing my heart out to a bunch of music they played. I realized too late that my voice never fully recovered from my time in Overwatch League and by the time we got to the arena, my voice was gone. Completely. I was reduced to a hoarse whisper and was absolutely disheartened because not only was I in hostile territory OWL-wise, but I was completely incapable of cheering Valiant on in what was probably the most frustrating showmatch I’ve seen so far. And this wasn’t because I was a Valiant fan.

What’s worse is that I’m deeply empathetic. So I found myself feeling very upset and discouraged as I saw the LA Valiant deal with connection and PC issues. First it was Bunny, then KSF, and then Sinatraa on the Shock side had some issues as well. This would normally be fine; this stuff happens every once in a while, but it was the fact that it took such a long time to repair things that stood out. I saw the frustration on the players’ faces during the first half that lasted into the second, and I can tell you, it was painful to watch.

Scott “Custa” Kennedy at the Oakland showmatch / Photo: Samuel Chen

After what seemed like an eternity, the game continued on arguably the worst map ever (Horizon Lunar Colony sucks, don’t @ me), thinking that the problems were over…until Fate’s computer completely disconnected. For a long time. Another frustrating eon later, the game was over, and home team San Francisco Shock won, with a dominating 3-0 score.

The Good Side 

I drove the six hours back home, exhausted and embittered, only finding solace in the fact that my friend Daniel, a huge San Francisco Shock fan, was able to experience a win and have a good time as a result. And I don’t know if it was the drive, the back-to-back stress of doing Blizzcon and then this, or what, but the very next day, I became very ill and was bedridden for several days. Which is why it took so long for me to report on this now.

Despite this, I’m ultimately a positive person, and it brought to light all of the hard work, struggles, and triumphs that go into running off-season, off-campus events for the first time without Blizzard involvement. I have to give a shout out to a lot of people here, because there were many moments that could have easily derailed the event completely, mainly due to technical issues.

Bren and Sideshow, the dynamic duo, proved themselves once again to be nothing but talented casters as numerous technical difficulties delayed the main event significantly. The hosts and the staff also kept the crowd entertained as they gave away swag and even had a contest between Valiant and Shock fans to identify map music. This hilariously frustrated me SO HARD since I knew all of the answers and they were having a bit of trouble knowing the difference between the themes for Anubis and Numbani (how?). And to the event planners, who were probably running around making sure everything went off without a hitch, and responded so well when they didn’t. I mean, look at these happy faces.

Custa having fun / Photo: Samuel Chen


Andrej “babybay” Francisty and Architect at the Oakland showmatch / Photo: Samuel Chen

I am always of the notion that if you love something enough, if you care for something enough, it will show in your results. The passion would be so pervasive that even the most reluctant participant cannot help but be swept up in it. So while the trophy was handed out to UC Irvine, to the Los Angeles Valiant, and to San Francisco Shock, I believe the real champions were those who organized the event–they stayed true to their commitment to highlight how important the fans were to them, and provided not one, but two relatively successful events that provided memories that would stick with those fans for a long time. So with my own personal thanks, congratulations to those who organized and executed the California Cup. Because it’s not the problems that arise that matter. It’s how you solve them that does.

There’s no mistaking that.


Brittany "Briggsycakes" Gonzalez is a litta bitta switcha hitta Trinirican winna from Philly/New York who now resides in California as the Los Angeles Valiant's official hypewoman/meme victim. She can easily be bribed with apple pie and macaroni and cheese and thrives when writing about her own personal experiences regarding humanity's place in the esports/social media age. Don't @ her unprepared. Follow Briggsy on Twitter here.
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